His first feature film A HOLE IN ONE (2004), starring Michelle Williams, about a woman who wants a lobotomy, originated in a piece of performance art he did based on the psychiatric records of his mother’s brother who died while a patient at a V.A. psychiatric hospital. He holds a doctorate in comparative literature from NYU, where he wrote a dissertation on the cultural significance of the rise of mental healthcare in the U.S. based on treating veterans after WWII. During his research he volunteered at a center for severely mentally ill, assistant-directing their theater program. This combination of a personal connection to a film’s theme with research into its broader significance remains a cornerstone to his work.
In 2004 A HOLE IN ONE was nominated for the Jury Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2008 his feature fiction film THE CALLER, with Frank Langella and Elliott Gould, won Best NY Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival and in 2012 his feature fiction film FRED WON’T MOVE OUT, with Elliott Gould and Fred Melamed, was nominated for Best North American Independent Film at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. His most recent film, NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL, is about refugees detained on the island of Lesvos, waiting to learn if they will be allowed to stay in Europe. He serves on the Cinema Committee of BAM (the Brooklyn Academy of Music).
The history of my last name is a complicated one. As far as I know, the name with which my paternal grandfather came to the U.S., Kostaledes, was a false name, possibly matching a dead man's passport. My last name, Ledes, is therefore the second half of a false name. My mother changed the pronunciation so it would sound "more American." I have usually kept this pronunciation. To learn how my last name is currently pronounced, click below.